Streaming is a word that comes from English and that we use very frequently. By it, we mean to refer to that technology to view content from the Internet without the need to make a previous download.
What is streaming?
To better understand this concept, it is important that we establish the differences between a live broadcast and streaming. When we talk about a live broadcast, we talk about sending a signal from a point. The receivers capture the waves, decode them and display the content. As you can imagine, this is the system used to broadcast on radio or television. To see or listen to specific content, the user must turn on the device at the time and date on which it is broadcast.
Unlike live broadcasts, streaming is content hosted on the Internet that is sent from a server to a client (the device you use to view or listen to the content). This technology is useful for live broadcasts, which are uploaded to a server in real-time and streamed to as many devices as needed. However, it is also for deferred content, with files that have been stored previously. Therefore, we consider that we are taking advantage of streaming when watching a video on YouTube, a live stream on Twitch or listening to a song on Spotify.
And what is the common denominator of streaming broadcasts? It’s very simple: in all of them, the content is served from a remote point. Therefore, we are facing a system that avoids the prior download of content, being able to consume it at any time and from different devices. At all times, the video or audio is hosted on external servers that the user can access from various devices, such as computers, mobile phones or tablets.
What is Streaming for?
Streaming is mainly used to transmit content without having to download files beforehand to the storage unit of the receiving device. Taking this into account, we can say that the functions of this technology are varied and that it can be used in different areas. In this list you have some examples:
- Live video. It is one of the best-known streaming modalities. It is the one that allows you to see live content, that is, that it is being produced at the time of viewing. One of the best-known platforms is Twitch, although other social networks, such as Instagram, Facebook or YouTube, also offer this service.
- Delayed video. This is the transmission of audiovisual content that has been previously recorded and edited. To watch it, simply access the corresponding page or application and press the play button. The device will download parts of the video as the display progresses. YouTube is one of the main players in this sector, although we can also talk about Netflix, Prime Video, HBO or Vimeo.
- Music. It is related to playing songs and playlists without prior download. Spotify is the most common name for streaming music services, although there are others such as Deezer or SoundCloud. Here we could also include on-demand radio services and podcasts, which we have already told you how to listen to on your mobile.
- Applications and video games. Streaming technology now allows you to play games or use apps without the need for a previous download. This is possible thanks to the communication between the server, which sends data, and the client, which response to them with actions. It is something that Microsoft is already marketing with xCloud or Amazon with Luna, to give just a few examples.
In short, streaming is a much easier way to consume content. With it, the platforms have delegated the responsibility of hosting multimedia files on their own servers, offering access to them from any device that is connected to the Internet.